Technology, in all its wondrous, virtual glory, is a scary thing. These days everything is just a click away, the world literally at your fingertips, and for those who know what they’re looking for its reach is practically limitless. What would you do with unlimited access to virtually anything connected to an electronic signal? How would you use such power? These are the questions posited in Hacktivist #1, the brain child of actress and activist Alyssa Milano.
Hacktivist follows Ed and Nate, tech geniuses, revolutionaries, and billionaire creators of social media juggernaut yourlife, as they use their massive resources and technological know-how to change the course of the wireless world. The story opens in the midst of a “kiddie pool” operation (the easy peasy takeover of Tunisia’s internet) in which the two friends (call-sign: _sav_Urs3lf) provide an open channel to give voice to the oppressed. To Nate, this is a job well done, a bold strike at tyranny that’s to be lauded. To Ed, it’s small potatoes, the beginning of what could be a world wide revolution. The dichotomy of these two characters and their goals drives the piece, and by issue’s end it’s apparent that the differences between these two could have wide spread ramifications.
Though the concept is Milano’s, the writing is credited to the duo of Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. The team does a nice job of presenting the world of computer hacking in a way that feels accurate without being so overbearing with tech-talk that you need to speak binary. Ed and Nate are presented as gallant, remarkably computer savvy super studs, but the comparisons end there. Nate, all scruff and nonchalance in his scuffed up high tops, is more focused on further developing yourlife (basically Facebook on ‘roids). He’s the wild card of the two, more prone to parties and “look at me” antics than the more introverted Ed. To Ed, yourlife is merely the means, a facade, whereas _sav_Urs3lf is the truly worthwhile venture. His life is orderly, perfectly calculated, everything from the ink in his pens to the temperature of his water a self perpetuated pattern. The writers do a nice job establishing the Ying to one’s Yang, and further exploration will only serve to make the story even better.
It’d be fair to assume a book centered around technological infiltration would be a bit visually flat, yet artist Marcus To manages to make a book about hackers click-clacketing on a keyboard both engaging and exciting, a testament to his storytelling abilities. His unique layouts and tight framing capture the terse but exhilarating world of computer hacking in a manner reminiscent of a live action caper, panels darting from scene to scene in lively fashion. His characterization of our two heroes is great, everything from body language to facial quirks representative of the personality gleaned from their dialogue. Also good are the book’s action sequences, namely the opening bit in Tunisia and the splash page march that comes as a result of said sequence. Thus far To appears a good fit for the story at hand, so here’s hoping the writers have some good stuff for him to tackle next.
Hacktivist #1 is a debut filled with promise, the premise strong and easily resonant. Milano and Co. seem intent to enlighten as much as entertain, positing a world not so different from the one we live in today. I personally would love a world in which yourlife exists (seriously, it’s a cool idea), and the book carries a true “this could happen” vibe. It seems to suggest that change, no matter how small, can have wide reaching ramifications, something more and more apparent in an increasingly digital age. A twist at issue’s end sets the stage for grander things, and with such a high concept idea this story has nowhere else to go but up.